Archbishops join in solemn procession


HISTORY WAS made in Dublin last night as, for the first time since the Reformation, the city’s two archbishops carried a cross through the city centre streets on a Good Friday to mark the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.

Catholic Archbishop Diarmuid Martin and Church of Ireland Archbishop Michael Jackson led a procession from Christ Church Cathedral following a joint prayer service there. They carried an icon of the crucifixion by Brother Eric de Saussure of the ecumenical Taize community in France, which is made up of brothers from Catholic and Protestant traditions.

Last night’s procession, made up of an estimated 450 people, was preceded by traffic gardaí on motorbikes and made its way via Dame Street, College Green to Westmoreland Street, before crossing O’Connell bridge. It then headed to the Spire where it turned right down Sackville Street to the Pro-Cathedral.

At a service earlier in Dawson’s Street’s St Ann’s Church, Archbishop Jackson spoke of the decade of commemorations facing this island. “A mature European democracy has to accept that this decade of centenaries begins – I suspect unpalatably to many – with the Solemn League and Covenant of 1912,” he said.

“It is not possible, however, to have 1916 in either of its manifestations – Somme or Rising – without accepting as real the passion of 1912 and the Solemn League and Covenant.”

He said: “We cannot pick and choose; we must accept the validity and integrity of historical aspiration and idealism even if contemporary wisdom tends towards exclusivity and selectivity.”

At Way of the Cross ceremonies in Dublin’s Phoenix Park, Archbishop Martin said that “being a Christian in today’s society requires integrity. There are so many like Peter who, when being a Christian involves courage, slip into the anonymity of the crowd hoping that they will not be called to task, that they will no longer be recognised.”

He prayed: “Give us the courage like Peter, if even too late, to recognise and repent our weakness and lack of backbone. Let our repentance be true, not the measured and managed repentance of the spin doctors. Keep your church uncompromised with those who mock the truth.”

At a Chrism Mass in Newry’s Cathedral of Saints Patrick and Colman on Thursday, Bishop John McAreavey said: “The number of priests available to celebrate the Eucharist in the parishes and schools of the diocese has fallen; several parishes no longer have priests residing in them”.

The challenge was to ensure “that people in each parish have a priest that they recognise as their own priest, who will celebrate Mass in their parish and whom they can call on in times of need”.

At St Muredach’s Cathedral in Ballina, Bishop John Fleming recalled how “the Irish church was organised on a monastic basis in the first millennium. It was organised on the diocesan system in the second millennium, following the 12th century reform. At this, the beginning of the third millennium, we are called on once more to a renewal of the church in our country. I cannot predict precisely how this will come about or what shape it will take.”